I am excited to announce that Veriditas is developing a new program called VIA -Veriditas International Association (VIA) of professional labyrinth facilitators
Veriditas is best known for presenting the labyrinth as a spiritual tool, one that can be taken into many different settings and offered to many different populations.
After two decades of providing quality training for those who want to share the labyrinth with others, Veriditas is taking the next step. Facilitators stand at the heart of our organization and we are forming a professional association for our trained labyrinth facilitators. Labyrinth facilitators have taken the labyrinth with them into many professions, such as clergy and spiritual direction, counseling, teaching, wellness, health care, to name only a few. There is an emerging and defined body of knowledge around how to facilitate the labyrinth that needs to be recognized as a new and growing profession.
Whether you hold your labyrinth facilitation as an avocation or as a part of your professional work, you are invited to join us in this new endeavor that is designed to recognize your skill, empower you with a professional association, and provide you with affiliation and a sense of belonging in a growing field.
VIA welcomes anyone who has completed the Veriditas Facilitator Training.
To any of you who are currently members of our Facilitator Subscription Program, VIA will be replacing it and you will be “grandmothered” into VIA.
Watch for VIA to go live in August! More details to come…..
Blessings on the Path,
FACILITATOR SPOTLIGHT: Susan Viljoen
By Chris Farrow-Noble, Council Member
This month I have the privilege of introducing Susan Viljoen from Brackenhurst, South Africa, a Martha Beck Life Coach and Equus Life Coach-in-training. Susan received the Veriditas Melissa Postnikoff scholarship to attend facilitator training in Houston in November 2015.
Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
It really found me. I visited the extensive herbal gardens of Margaret Roberts for the first time at a time of great personal upheaval as an outing so soothe myself. I came upon the large outdoor Chartres labyrinth replica in the garden, read the notice board, walked, and experienced the labyrinth working its magic very powerfully. The little shop on the grounds sold not only herbal products but also a pamphlet about the labyrinth. I was fascinated and have remained so ever since.
How do you describe the work you do with the labyrinth?
My entire life is about finding meaning for oneself, trusting one's own answers. To me, the labyrinth is a tool for this. Other tools I know include life coaching with horses, but the labyrinth is such an open, accessible path to the essence of life.
My work with horses and life coaching involves a client interacting with a horse on the ground. Any horse and any interaction will do; I use horse facilities nearby. From this interaction, patterns of behaviour that are familiar to the client become visible because of the reaction of the horse. The way we do anything is the way we do everything, after all. This means that the patterns a client exhibits towards the horse are probably the patterns the client uses in whatever problem area she has come to me to discuss. The horse cuts to the chase, so to speak, in its immediate and spontaneous reaction to the client. Typically some life coaching takes place on the spot. The changed reaction of the horse remains a powerful reminder to the client of the change that is possible in her problem area when she changes her way of thinking in the same way she did while working with the horse.
People usually have great “aha” moments during this work.
Have you had opportunities to work with other facilitators in South Africa?
I have some contact with two other SA facilitators - Nokkie Benade and Terry deVries. Nokkie and I were the only two overseas attendees to Kay Mutert’s Houston training group last year, and we did not know about each other beforehand! Terry is a facilitator and builder whom I have not met in person, but whose work I admire. Since I like labyrinths large enough for horses, I especially appreciate the scale of her labyrinths and have walked several.
I have also met other labyrinth builders and enthusiasts in SA: Margaret Roberts, the "herb lady," who has a huge Chartres labyrinth replica in her public herb garden here - Margaret and Angus, a couple who has built a Baltic labyrinth on their plot and run it as a venue together with other features, including a yoga deck; and more recently, Koos Burger, who created the biggest labyrinth in SA - a 3km walk- on the Rotary International grounds that he runs in Glencairn, SA.
I have worked with Christina Brandt, a US Veriditas facilitator and labyrinth builder who is a significant person in my labyrinth journey. Two years ago she helped guide me while I put together a labyrinth talk and walk for the first SA Martha Beck Life Coaches Summit. I had a significant experience in a labyrinth she built for Martha Beck on her ranch. Last year, just prior to my training in Houston, I had the opportunity with Christina and some other life coaches to finish the Man in the Maze labyrinth that Christina was building for TJ Killoran on Apache Springs Ranch in the Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona.
Do you have a group of people with whom you regularly walk the labyrinth or with whom you facilitate walks?
No. The other facilitators live in the Cape - a full day's journey by car from me, so facilitating together with them is not easy.
How did you learn about Veriditas? Do you have a similar organization in Africa?
I suppose I learned about Veriditas through the books of Lauren Artress, No, we don’t have such an organization; that’s is why I chose to come to Houston for the Veriditas Facilitator Training.
As a Melissa Postnikoff scholarship recipient, how do you envision your facilitator training will expand your labyrinth work?
A great need exists in SA for upliftment of people who have not had the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of ways to grow within themselves. I have offered glimpses of ways to go within that I know and trust with some groups, such as the work I did with boys from the development programme that Wendy Gidlow runs in Johannesburg. She is a recipient of the FEI Development Award for her work with these boys.
Together with other equus coaches, I have also worked with the team leaders at Good Work Foundation (GWF) in Hazyview. These leaders touch the lives of hundreds of underprivileged children every week and have done so for many years. I would love to create a labyrinth at GWF for the whole community to use and to introduce the community to what labyrinth walking can do for them.
What have you found to be your biggest challenge in working with the labyrinth?
Mobilising people to walk the labyrinth in a group. This is not very common in SA. Walking in community is so different than walking solo, and it presents other facets of the experience. I love exposing people to this. Whenever I have facilitated a group walk in South Africa or been a part of one, I have seen favourable responses, and people are eager to the walk the labyrinth again. Group walks are a way to expand awareness of labyrinths and to deepen the experience for people.
How do you interact with the labyrinth in your own personal life?
I have a labyrinth in my garden and work at its upkeep, which is a meditation in itself since pennyroyal grows vigorously in the paths between the rocks that I have brought from all over the world. I walk it often as a meditation, as a way to find peace, and as a way to access my own inner wisdom and connect with the Divine. Wherever I travel, I research labyrinths close by and walk them, which often results in a deepening of the journey.
Have you ever walked the Reconciliation Labyrinth that was designed and developed in SA?
Yes. There are three permanent reconciliation labyrinths in SA - Slangkop Lighthouse, St. John’s Diocescan School for Girls in Pietermaritzburg, and at the library in Masiphumelele, Cape Town. I have recently walked the one at Slangkop Lighthouse in Kommetjie, near Cape Town.
Please share a vision or dream that you have about your work with the labyrinth.
I dream of building a labyrinth for the Hazyview community to dovetail with the opportunities that Good Work Foundation (GWF) offers the children and school leavers there. That age group is our future. GWF has an established reputation and is trusted in the community. The core business of GWF is to offer opportunities that add value to the lives of the people. I think a labyrinth endorsed by GWF would help validate for the community that walking the labyrinth is a worthwhile activity that can make a difference for them.
I also have a dream to build a labyrinth in the town of Kaapsehoop since it is the location of Adam's Calendar, a site with ancient stones thought by some to be older than Stonehenge. A labyrinth there would tell some of the stories of the local stones, as well as the stars and solstices that Adam's Calendar may represent. I have hosted a retreat in Kaapsehoop and will do so again later this year. The venue has some potential space for a labyrinth; I am working on making this particular dream a reality. I envision something like the Strathpeffer labyrinth.
Are there ways that the international labyrinth community can be helpful to you in South Africa?
It would be lovely to have help with the GWF labyrinth, particularly in terms of design and sponsorship. And, how about joining us in SA for a trip to some of the great labyrinths here, in order to bring awareness to labyrinths for SA and the world? I think this is a great idea that we should pursue.
Please tell us about a profound experience on the labyrinth.
The group of us who helped Christina Brandt finish the Man in the Maze labyrinth at Apache Springs Ranch inaugurated the labyrinth with a small ceremony, which included an Apache descendant drumming and fluting us throughout our first walk. I became deeply emotional as I realized that I would probably never walk that labyrinth again.
The concept of the present moment gained extra meaning for me as I realized I would not return, and yet I had these moments I was living then, and they would be enough if I lived them fully. Receiving that gift was very moving. Afterwards, some blue jays visited me. We don't have them in South Africa, so seeing them really drew my attention. According to Native American wisdom, the blue jay is a symbol of heart truth, which is exactly what I felt I had experienced in the labyrinth. It is a gift that has stayed with me.
How did you first become aware of the Labyrinth?
The first time I was aware of the labyrinth was when I heard Richard Feather Anderson speaking about it on the radio sometime in the late 1980’s. I remember getting very excited thinking it would be a great thing to have at my daughter’s Waldorf School. I talked to a couple of people but it didn’t go anywhere at the time. Then a little later I was working with Lauren at Quest (precursor to Veriditas) at Grace Cathedral and she introduced me to the labyrinth. This was in 1991 or 1992, with other people involved in the Quest program. We would meet at Lauren’s old house and she was all excited about the labyrinth, so she brought it to Grace.The experience of the labyrinth that stuck with me the most is when we had it at the Women’s Dream Quest in 1993. The Dream Quest started in 1987 when Lauren and a friend of hers, Elaine Gilmer, asked members of the community to come to Grace Cathedral to create an overnight event. The first couple of years it was a group of us who put together the Dream Quest. Then I started leading it and by the time it was 1993 the labyrinth was available. It just fell into the middle of the Dream Quest. It was perfect. Gathering near the font, we used walking the labyrinth as part of the experience. We’d always had other elements, such as music, meditation and some other things that have evolved over the years into the current format. When it all came together, the labyrinth and the Dream Quest seemed like a match made in heaven. I can’t imagine it without the labyrinth now. Early on I was asked to be a small group leader, then I was on the Leadership committee, then I became the Leader.
Would you share a story or experience that you’ve had with the labyrinth?
This last eighteen months the labyrinth at Chartres hasn’t been available due to renovation. This is the longest I’ve been away from Chartres. Since 1999 I’ve gone to Chartres at least once a year and I spent 2 ½ months there in 2004 writing during some sabbatical time. So I’ve missed the labyrinth a lot. This year I’m going back in September when the labyrinth will be open again. In early June when Lauren, Dawn and Phil Cousineau were there, I had a dream that just before I woke up I was walking into the south porch doors at Chartres and the Cathedral was under construction. as it is. I walked around the Cathedral and there was a wall separating the labyrinth from the rest of Chartres. As I approached I looked around the wall and the labyrinth was full of beautiful green grass all over and you could see the path of the labyrinth. To me it was the picture of the labyrinth as the greening power of God (what Veriditas means). It’s as if, for the last eighteen months, the labyrinth had been busy greening. And as I got closer to the labyrinth I couldn’t even look at it because it was so bright! That seemed like a big invitation to come back and I wonder what has been the effect of it not being open and in service these last many months. That was one of the best dreams I’ve ever had in my life. The labyrinth has been certainly one of the major components of my spiritual life. A guiding star, a way for me to hone in on my connection and my essence. And it’s nice to have it talk to me in my dreams that way.
Please tell us about your involvement in VIA and what that is.
VIA stands for Veriditas International Association. We wanted to have something that would reflect what Veriditas is. I feel that it is so important to have an association of facilitators, especially as the work grows and expands in the world. VIA is a vehicle to inspire facilitators to become more involved in Veriditas by helping to make this organization more effective in spreading the labyrinth globally. So VIA is a professional organization. There are benefits to it and there’s also a sense of being part of a group that is facilitating the work of the whole organization. We’re just launching it and it will be happening later this summer. Veriditas has 4000 trained facilitators, many of whom are working with the labyrinth as part of their professional activities. We are hoping to inspire these wonderful facilitators to support Veriditas in a grassroots and democratic way. The idea is that eventually VIA will be an association which serves the needs of the facilitators in doing their work with the labyrinth wherever they are.
Why are you a Sustaining Giver to Veriditas?Originally I was inspired by the kind of sustainable giving campaigns that NPR Radio does. I’ve realized the importance of a dependable cash flow for any non-profit organization to function and felt how great that would be for Veriditas. And if we all gave at a rate that works for each individual, then we would have an abundance of money to fund Veriditas. I really understand how much time and energy it takes to organize the programming, do the fundraising and marketing and put in the care needed for our programs to be excellent. I want to see all of this fully supported. I feel like Sustaining Giving is the right thing to do. People who care about something should give back. It also empowers people to feel part of an organization.
VERIDITAS' ONLINE AUCTION RETURNS!
October 3rd to October 23rd, 2016
We are now accepting item donations for our Annual Online Auction!
How do I donate?
Donating an item is easy! This year we are making it very simple – with a digital photo and a description of your item you can create and post your own listing directly on our auction website: www.biddingforgood.com/veriditas. If you prefer, we are pleased to offer assistance with the creation of your listing. Connect with Jenny Slama (email@example.com) to get started!
What could I donate?
We welcome all donations to our auction – big or small! Are you an artist who could donate their creations? Do you have a special skillset or expertise that could provide a service for someone?
Donation items include (but are certainly not limited to): labyrinth items, music, artwork, getaway vacations, services, books, unique products, jewelry, home & garden items, goods exclusive to your region of the nation – or the world! It’s wonderful to have a wide variety in both items and price range. We are delighted to welcome Linda Hurley to our auction team this year! Linda is our Auction Gift Coordinator. She can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Please remember that part of your donation is being responsible for the shipping of your item to the winning bidder, and costs associated with that shipping. )
Can I spread the word?
Absolutely! The more the merrier in this auction! You can help us get the word out by sharing our website (www.biddigforgood.com/veriditas) with anyone who might be interested in the auction items, someone who wants to support our mission or those who might be interested in learning more about our organization!
SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR VERIDITAS COMMUNITY from iSpiritual
iSpiritual is offering a 20% permanent discount for Veriditas effective July 1st.
Simply enter veriditas20.
The discount applies to everything on their site. Click here to shop.
GLOBAL HEALING RESPONSE
The Global Healing Response, founded in 2005 by Council member Ellen Bintz Meuch, offers an annual theme and quarterly ideas and information to enrich labyrinth walks.
The GHR theme for 2016 is Stability
"The world is beautiful outside where there is stability inside." -Unknown.
As wave is driven by wave
Picture/symbol: Sunrise (Photo by The Rev. Warren Lynn)
LITTLE MIRACLES ON THE PATH
"Little Miracles" is produced by Linda Mikell. Each month she shares an inspirational story from a labyrinth experience that is sent to her by a facilitator. She welcomes YOUR story. I'm sure you're got one, and we all benefit from this sharing. Thank you, Linda!
Please send your story to Linda Mikell at email@example.com
Booklets are available online for
$10 each plus shipping.
Proceeds benefit the Veriditas scholarship fund.